(L-R) The team who works behind the scenes to make sure the Sidney Community Christmas dinner goes off without a hitch includes: Kurtis Francis, store manager of Thrifty Foods in Sidney, chef Clara Knight, Patti Sanders of the Mary Winspear Centre, volunteer Sandra Rafferty, Dave Friend who will emcee the event, Santa sidekick Vern England, Dave Alexander, store manager of Save-on-Foods and Wendy Warshawski (seated).

(L-R) The team who works behind the scenes to make sure the Sidney Community Christmas dinner goes off without a hitch includes: Kurtis Francis, store manager of Thrifty Foods in Sidney, chef Clara Knight, Patti Sanders of the Mary Winspear Centre, volunteer Sandra Rafferty, Dave Friend who will emcee the event, Santa sidekick Vern England, Dave Alexander, store manager of Save-on-Foods and Wendy Warshawski (seated).

Community Christmas dinner in Sidney ensures no one spends holidays alone

Annual event celebrates 19 years of serving up a festive feast with all the trimmings

For nearly 20 years a group of volunteers has spent Christmas Day in the kitchen of the Mary Winspear Centre making sure turkeys are cooked, stuffing is seasoned and plates are full, welcoming the community to share in a meal.

Originally the idea was to provide a place for seniors spending Christmas alone, but the tradition has grown to include families from across the Peninsula.

“Anyone who wants to come,” says volunteer co-ordinator Wendy Warshawski. “I just love to see the people that are benefiting from it.”

RELATED: Peninsula firefighters look to the community for help in giving back

Nineteen years ago, roughly 50 people came to a Christmas lunch held at the former Silver Threads seniors centre.

By the following year, the team had moved to Bodine Hall at the Mary Winspear Centre because of the “huge increase in attendance,” Warshawski says.

This year a team of 35 volunteers will tie on an apron and get down to work cooking a festive feast with all the trimmings thanks to donations from Fairway Market, Save-on-Foods and Thrifty Foods in Sidney.

RELATED: Sidney Museum kicks it up a notch with Christmas toy exhibit

Dessert is provided by Breadstuffs Deli and Bakery in Brentwood Bay and for those who may need transportation getting to the hall, members of the Lions Club will be on hand to get folks in, and home again.

Warshawski and her team start preparing for the event in September as the number of attendees continues to grow each year. Admission is by donation but no one will be turned away for lack of funds or space.

“We will make room,” she says. “Staff here will always throw up another table.”

Two scheduled sittings at 11:15 and 1:15 help to disperse the crowd and ensure Santa gets to visit with everyone.

And though the now 85-year-old Warshawski is at the helm of the whole production she is quick to extend the credit, to the local businesses who make the meal possible and to her dedicated chef, Clara Knight.

“Nobody is the boss,” she stresses. “We work as a team.”

To reserve a table call Wendy Warshawski at 250-656-7678.


@kristyn_anthony
kristyn.anthony@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read